Pilot leaves messages in the skies A giant heart hangs in the sky at sunset after skywriter Nathan Hammond wrote several days-worth of messages, relating to hope and love, over New Orleans, during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (AP photos)
Pilot leaves messages in the skies
Lexile

High above New Orleans, a small plane rolled in tight barrels. Behind it trailed smoke to create inspirational messages. They included smiley faces, peace signs, hearts and words like "jazz," "amen" and in a true testament of flying ability "transform."

Over seven days of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, a skywriter inscribed the smoky messages. They captivated the hundreds of thousands gathered below.

New Orleans entrepreneur Frank Scurlock conceived the idea. He hired skywriter Nathan Hammond to pen the fanciful, fleeting art.

Scurlock's family runs a bounce castle manufacturing and rental company. He said the messages were simply his way of reminding people that goodness can still flourish in a world that seems increasingly marred by violence.

"This is just a simple way for people to just look up in the sky and say 'Wow, what a great world that we live in,'" he said. "And a chance to believe and have faith in not only today but in the future."

Hammond flew his plane down from Kentucky for Jazz Fest. The event ran for seven days over the course of two weekends.

"We're out here just kind of spreading the love, over the top of New Orleans," Hammond said. He said he generally does commercial work for a company or an event. Occasionally, he receives a request to write a marriage proposal in the sky. But Scurlock's request was completely different. The entrepreneur hired him for 10 days. Hammond made three flights a day.

Hammond has to keep his wits about him when he's flying. That's because his plane is traveling in tight loops or barrels. He estimates the letters to be about a mile tall. Some can stretch up to 10 miles, depending on the message. And he has to be able to spell correctly, of course.

On the ground, festival-goers were transfixed.

"I've seen him all week. I've taken pictures of him every single day and enjoyed him and wondered who did it. Every time they would start a word, we'd try to figure it out before they finished what it is," Mary Mouton of New Orleans said.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is Nathan Hammonds work referred to as fleeting art?

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COMMENTS (106)
  • Ariannar103
    5/12/2015 - 02:39 p.m.

    Sending plane out to leave messages in the sky during a festival with thousands of people is a great idea because most people in this world thinks our world is just made up of violence and nothing else. They only see the world as negative things instead of positive things. These messages help thousands of people see that the world is great and its not all bad. These messages are showing that our world needs peace and happiness trough out the world. Its was nice of Frank Scurlock to come up with a idea like this because it is just a simple way to spread our love. <3

  • JusticeS-Kut
    5/12/2015 - 03:17 p.m.

    That's pretty sweet and inspiring to leave messages for people to see. i know if i saw a message i would think it was really cool and it would make my day happier by the moment. I would love to see that happen because it sure is something different instead of a straight line. Plus it gives people who are not in the plain a great day because they saw something not normal. But not only that also the people in the plane are having a good day maybe because they know they are in a plane writing messages for other people down on earth and thy also might have a good day because they are flying to another state they most likely want to go to.

  • Makiyap1025
    5/12/2015 - 03:54 p.m.

    This beautiful, the USA needs a lot of love and peace right now. This is probably some of our darkest days. I would love to see some writing in the sky, people should start reading between the lines and follow it.

  • zarab-Orv
    5/12/2015 - 04:02 p.m.

    This article was interesting because this guy named Jazz went up in a helicopter and he got to see cool shapes and words the sky. If you were up in the sky and you saw a a heart what would you say or do?

  • JoslinLMagenta
    5/12/2015 - 04:43 p.m.

    I think that it was super nice of that guy to leave a message in the sky for the guy the requested the mirage proposal.

  • KathrynSPink
    5/12/2015 - 04:44 p.m.

    I think this sky writing is an awesome way to inspire people. I also think it is a great way to spread joy and happiness to everyone who sees it.

  • TannerKOrange
    5/12/2015 - 04:45 p.m.

    I think this is cool. Really cool. I just don't see how you could possibly make those shapes perfectly without getting blinded through the clouds when trying to make symbols like peace. This would be a good way to communicate in battlefronts so the flier could tell his side what supplies the enemy has.

  • CaileeHBlue
    5/12/2015 - 04:46 p.m.

    I think it is really cool that people can fly and make shapes and figures, also it is cool that people ask to request a marriage proposal in the sky.

  • CateS-Kut
    5/12/2015 - 04:46 p.m.

    I think that this is so cool! I bet it would be hard to do because your flying at such a fast speed. I did more research on him and I found that he is a business man. That is so cool that he is going out of his way to skywrite. I wonder if he will do more. It is so inspiring!. This shows that anyone can do things even if its not your job.

  • ChadLPurple
    5/12/2015 - 04:48 p.m.

    I think this is the very coolest article every! I think its cool how they can change the exhaust so much that it smokes so and it can stop smoking instantly.

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